Summary: Our Speech, Others Needs, Pride
LIFE APP – Taming the Tongue
James 3:1-12 (p. 848) September 28, 2014
“In the ‘Wizard of Oz’ when the scarecrow speaks to Dorothy, she is amazed and asks, “him how he can talk when his brain is made of straw. The Scarecrow replies, “That many people talk a great deal who haven’t got any brain at all!”
Like this guy:
It was his first day on the job. He was a new clerk in the green goods department of a super market. A lady came up to him and said she wanted to buy half of a head of lettuce. He tried to dissuade her from that goal, but she persisted. Finally he said, “I’ll have to go back and talk to the manager.” He went to the rear of the store to talk to the manager, not noticing that the woman was walking right behind him. When he got into the back of the store, he said to the manager, “There’s some stupid old bag out there who wants to buy half a head of lettuce. What should I tell her?” Seeing the horrified look on the face of the manager, he turned about and, seeing the woman, added, “And this nice lady wants to buy the other half of head of lettuce. Will it be all right?” Considerably relieved, the manager said, “That would be fine.” Later in the day, he congratulated the boy on his quick thinking. He then asked, “Where are you from, son?” The boy said, “I’m from Lexington, KY the home of amazing basketball players and ugly women.” The manager looked at him and said, “Son! My wife’s from Lexington, KY!” The boy said, “Oh, what team did she play for?”
Sometimes you can recover from a slip of the tongue, other times damage is so severe it devastates families and relationships for a lifetime.
You remember growing up hearing, “sticks and stones may break your bones, but names will never hurt me?”
The problem with that is it’s a lie...the emotional, and sometimes spiritual damage created by words, “some of them set on fire by Hell itself,” creates devastation harder to heal than any broken arm.
Left unhealed it’s a restless evil...a serpent ready to strike with deadly poison.
You see words reveal the truth of our hearts...words and how we use them reveal who we are at our core...when God came to earth, John’s gospel says “In the beginning was the Word (logos), and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” (v. 1)
And then (v. 14) miraculously records the incarnation of God, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us...”
Want to hear God speak clearly about who He is...”It’s in His Word...in the flesh...dwelling among us...revealing truth and grace.”
Maybe that’s why Jesus, the Logos, the Word said,
MATTHEW 12:33-37 (p. 683)
Pretty clear right? How do you tell what’s in a person’s heart...good or evil...It’s the fruit of their words. It’s our words that acquit us...or condemn us.
And that’s especially true for teachers...
I. SAYING YOU KNOW TRUTH REQUIRES YOU TRY TO LIVE TRUTH
James says, “Not many of you should become teachers my fellow believers because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly...And then James pours out honestly...“We all stumble in many ways.”
James is writing to those who would lead, mentor, share the truth of what following God is all about, would open the Word of God and themselves and say “here’s what God is saying and asking.” Here’s what it means to apply God’s truth to your life.
James says “we who teach” so he is putting himself in this category.
And he is clearly saying “real teaching of truth requires that the teacher apply it to their lives...or they’ll be judged more strictly...by their students...and by their God.
It’s a vulnerability that says...”we all stumble in many ways...I stumble in many ways! But I’m a learner...a student...and I’m trying to apply truth to my life...as you apply it to yours!
It’s why James says in Chapter four: “God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble.” (4:6)
Teaching because you want power, or influence...or control means you haven’t come to a place where you understand why God gave you a voice and truth...“for where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and every evil practice.” (v. 16)
The best NT example of this kind of teaching is found in the Pharisees who “did not practice what they preached.” (Matt. 23:3) Everything they did was for people to see...they loved places of honor, they loved to be greeted with respect and to be called “teacher” (Rabbi) by others (Matt. 23:5-7) and then Jesus says, “The greatest among you will be your servant...for those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matt. 23:11-12)